Captaincy poser for Stormers
Stormers coach Allister Coetzee faces a healthy selection poser as far as settling on a captain for the 2013 Super Rugby season is concerned.
Coetzee has developed a settled group of senior players within his Super Rugby squad during his tenure as coach of the Cape-based franchise.
Hooker-cum-loose forward Deon Fourie led Western Province to their first Currie Cup title in 11 years while eighthman Duane Vermeulen, wing Bryan Habana and hooker Tiaan Liebenberg all form part of the leadership group.
Coetzee on Wednesday said he is no rush to announce his captain for the 2013 campaign but said that it effectively boils down to a two-horse race between Springbok captain Jean de Villiers and flank Schalk Burger.
Burger had established himself as skipper and led the side into this year’s campaign before a knee injury in the season opener against the Hurricanes brought an abrupt end to his season.
In Burger’s absence, De Villiers led the Stormers to their second successive South African Conference title and was appointed by new Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer as captain of the national side.
Following the Springboks’ unbeaten end-of-year tour of Europe, Meyer announced that De Villiers will retain the captaincy next year.
Coetzee, however, said Meyer’s decision will have no influence on who he ultimately selects to lead the franchise.
"The fact that De Villiers will continue as Bok captain will not have a bearing on our appointment,” Coetzee said.
“I'll be happy if Jean gets the nod [as Springbok captain]; it’s probably the right thing to do. He's done an outstanding job this year
“But our situation is completely different. It’s a franchise situation, so I’ll chat to both Schalk and Jean and the senior players and we’ll make a decision from there.
"Also, the absence of Schalk at the start of the season won't influence our thinking. We'll make a choice based on what's best for the team.
"Schalk has been part of our pre-season planning because he's part of the leadership team and will always be there."
Coetzee said his star loose forward is making steady progress with his rehabilitation.
"He'll be running with a physiotherapist from the seventh and once he's ready, he'll join the team," said Coetzee.
Burger’s return will also require a back row balancing act but the coach describes it as “a good problem.”
“It’s great to have that depth. Super Rugby is not a race, it’s a marathon and all the loosies will play,” he said.
“If you want to make sure you make an impact towards the end you have to have your best players available and match ready in the play-off stages.”